Global COVID-19 cases have declined 78% over the past 28 days, but deaths rose 65% over the same period, with trends influenced by activity in the Western Pacific, especially in China, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in its latest weekly update on the pandemic.
The WHO said it is switching to 28-day intervals to more accurately portray whether COVID-19 activity is picking up or slowing down. It added, however, that it still reports weekly cases and deaths on its COVID-19 dashboard.
Over the past 4 weeks, cases declined across all six WHO regions. Deaths were up in three regions: the Western Pacific, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Americas. Over the past 4 weeks, China reported 62,759 more deaths. Much smaller increases were reported by the next two countries with the most deaths over the past 4 weeks, the United States and Japan.
The WHO urged caution in interpreting the trends, due to reduced testing and delays in reporting.
BA.5 and descendants still dominant
In its update on Omicron variants, the agency said BA.5 and its descendant lineages—which includes BQ.1 and BQ.1.1— are still dominant, making up 65.7% of sequenced samples. XBB.1.5, a recombinant of two BA.2 subvariants, makes up 11.5%.
The WHO said variant proportions vary by region, with BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 most common in Africa, the Americas, and Europe, XBB.1 most common in the Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia, and BA.5.2 most common in the Western Pacific.